Rajshahi storm to sixth NCL title after Junaid ton
Monir and Enamul's hat-tricks, a stunning fourth-innings chase, Saleh's sign-off and more in the NCL round-up
Rajshahi Division were crowned National Cricket League champions following their six-wicket win over Barisal Division in the last round fixture. Dhaka Division, meanwhile, earned a promotion to the top tier. Here's a round-up of the last four matches of the first-class competition:
Tale of the title
Rajshahi last won the NCL in 2011-12. It was their fourth title on the trot, and their fifth overall. Khulna won the last three seasons to take their titles tally to six. Now, they're no longer the side with most wins, with Rajshahi having joined them with this win. Khulna, meanwhile, avoided relegation this year.
It was a fitting finale in Rajshahi, where the hosts chased down 284 to win, with Junaid Siddique making an unbeaten 120. His fourth-wicket stand of 149 with Jahurul Islam, who made 64, made victory possible.
The match was mostly dominated by the bowlers though. After Mohor Sheikh's five-wicket haul sunk Barisal to 97 all out in the first innings, Monir Hossain took 5 for 14 including a hat-trick on the second day, as Rajshahi were bowled out for 160. The lead notwithstanding, Barisal made a sterling comeback with Al Amin making 97 in their second-innings 346. A target of 284 ought to have been a challenge, but Rajshahi chased down the runs in style.
Rajin Saleh signed off from first-class cricket two gritty half-centuries. He made 67 and 87 for Sylhet Division, who finished last in Tier-2. Saleh's second-innings effort was made worthwhile by similarly resolute efforts from Jakir Ali and Shahanur Rahman who were unbeaten on 77 and 70 respectively.
The last round saw veteran left-arm spinners Monir Hossain and Enamul take hat-tricks. Monir took his during the five-for against Rajshahi while Enamul removed Dhaka Division's Taibur Rahman, Mazid and Nazmul Hossain Milon, during his 5 for 87. Young pace bowlers Abu Hider, Robiul Haque and Mohor Sheikh were effective during this round while Nayeem Hasan, the young offspinner, took five wickets against Dhaka Metropolis to finish the season with 28 wickets.
Shadman Islam, who made 27 and 14 in the last round for Dhaka Metro, was the tournament's highest run-getter with 648 runs at 64.80 average. He struck two centuries and three fifties. Tushar Imran was behind him on runs, 518 at 57.55, but he had three centuries. Soumya Sarkar (471), Naeem Islam (444) and Rony Talukdar (426) round off the top five.
Offspinner Nayeem led the bowling charts with 28 wickets at 25.03, followed by the veteran left-arm spinner Arafat Sunny who took 23 wickets at 24.65. Farhad Reza was the leading wicket-taker among the pace bowlers with 22 scalps at 26.59.